The Saga Girls on a recent trip to Forks, Washington

Mindi Henderson was living her dream. It was like a scene out of a movie, or better yet, a book. Butterflies flew through her stomach as her best friend and fellow Twilight fanatic Emily Pierce drove up to the sign on the side of the road. With the Twilight soundtrack playing, Henderson was on the edge of her seat. There it was: “The City of Forks Welcomes You.” 

She knew all along it was coming up on the road that led to the small Washington town, but once it came into sight, reality set in. Until then, she had seen the films and read the books almost religiously, but she had never actually been to a location in the story.  

“Oh, my gosh. We need to pull over and take pictures,” Henderson recalls ecstatically telling Pierce. As a school teacher in SLC, Pierce is more subtle about her love for Twilight; she doesn’t want to seem childish around her students. Henderson says she went into that “teacher mode” as she drove toward the sign, but Henderson wasn’t about to let her best friend miss this opportunity. 

“Seriously, Emily, we’re here for this. You wanted to do this,” Henderson told her. “Don’t let your inhibitions ruin it—just embrace the crazy.”

And they did. No kids, no husbands, no drama, just two fanatics at the setting of the Twilight book series, the insanely popular young adult fiction series about a teenage girl in a love triangle with a suave vampire and a beefy werewolf, written by Brigham Young University grad Stephenie Meyer

In Forks, Henderson and Pierce found houses where the protagonist Bella and her undead heartthrob Edward reside. They saw Forks High School, where Bella and Edward first meet, and the hospital where Edward’s adopted father, a doctor and leader of the Cullen vampire clan, works. “We just knew what places were real from the books,” Henderson says. “There is actually a Twilight in Forks documentary that was helpful, [and] many of the merchants hand out maps for self-guided tours.”

But for the duo, it was more than just sightseeing. “Stephenie Meyer’s characters come alive and make you feel the things they’re feeling,” Henderson says. “As someone who is happily married, I do miss the anticipation Bella felt, falling in love, having a crush.” 

Henderson and Pierce camped at Three Rivers deep in the mossy woods where, in the books, the native Quileute werewolf tribe set a boundary line that members of the Cullen clan are not allowed to cross. Pierce and Henderson set their tent near the line, and started a bonfire one night on nearby Rialto Beach. Unlike driftwood in the book, it didn’t burn with a blue flame. But that didn’t matter—they were there.

At first Henderson rolled her eyes when friends recommended Twilight. She wasn’t about to read a book just because the author, like her, was Mormon, and she certainly wasn’t into vampires. She finally gave in to appease her friends a week before the fourth and final book, Breaking Dawn, hit shelves. She couldn’t put the series down, finishing the first three books before the midnight release. 

Now, as an administrator for The Ultimate Twi-Tastic Fan Page on Facebook, she posts on Twilight actors’ other projects, along with news about the films and a lot of Bella and Edward pictures.

Like Henderson, Sadie Fowers also brings her Twilight love to the online world. She moderates her and her sisters’ website for Saga Girls, their group of four women who buy out movie theaters for midnight premieres of the Twilight films, along with films based on Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

Fowers knows how Henderson felt when she finally reached Forks, since she, too, felt her Twilight butterflies while meeting actress Rachelle -Lefevre, who played the vampire Victoria in the first two films, at a DVD signing in 2009. “She was the first Victoria, and she was awesome,” Fowers says. “I still follow Rachelle on Twitter, and I’ve tracked down other shows she’s starred in.” 

Fowers knew she’d only have about 20 seconds to talk with the young actress. She needed to think of something clever to say. Maybe about how much she loved her work or that final scene where Victoria stares menacingly into the camera. 

“I was so nervous,” says Fowers, a 31-year-old mom. “But when I met her, she was so grateful.”

Next>>Part 2: An Adult Thing